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Re: [lxx] numbering the psalms

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  • James
    Not to mention that yeRomanCatholic Bibles have a different numbering for the Psalms and end up with 151 Psalms. James .
    Message 1 of 10 , Jan 16, 2013
      Not to mention that yeRomanCatholic Bibles have a different numbering
      for the Psalms and end up with 151 Psalms.

      James
      .
      On 1/16/2013 2:55 PM, Rebecca Howell wrote:
      >
      > Speaking not from deep scholarship on the issue, but just from common
      > sense, it seems to me that the difference between the psalms and the
      > other books is that the psalms are discreet units. (And even there,
      > there were differences in divisions.) As opposed to this, the chapter
      > distinctions in most other books were a bit arbitrary.
      >
      > The usage is different too. Even with psalms in a scroll, one imagines
      > them being sung or recited as individual units that would not
      > necessarily follow each other in order (though it is clear that many
      > people have gone through the psalms in order for a variety of purposes
      > through the years). Until the loosely linked development of the codex
      > and the Christian habit of proof-texting I'm not sure that it would
      > make any sense to consider breaking the other books up into numbered
      > sections.
      >
      > Granted you're asking about the people who might have had reason to
      > begin the practice, but it's a pretty bold step to start dividing up a
      > sacred text into arbitrary divisions. Once the divisions are there,
      > numbering them is much easier.
      >
      > I'm sure scholars with more specific expertise will have further insight.
      >
      > Rebecca Howell
      > Ph.D. Candidate
      > Historical Theology
      > Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia
      >
      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: William Yarchin BYarchin@... <mailto:BYarchin%40APU.EDU>>
      > To: lxx lxx@yahoogroups.com <mailto:lxx%40yahoogroups.com>>
      > Sent: Wed, Jan 16, 2013 2:19 pm
      > Subject: [lxx] numbering the psalms
      >
      > Centuries before any of the other Bible chapters were numbered, Jewish
      > scribes began applying numbers to the psalms in Hebrew manuscripts. This
      > started in the 11th century. Yet centuries before Jewish scribes began
      > doing this, Christian scribes were already applying numbers to the psalms
      > as early as the Bodmer papyri around 200 CE. Codex Sinaiticus is a parade
      > example, where, in the OT books, it is only the book of Psalms that
      > features chapter-numbers original to the codex.
      >
      > In ancient and medieval commentary tradition you almost never come across
      > ordinal reference to the psalms, while in the early Christian commentary
      > and homiletic tradition it is common. So far the earliest example I have
      > found is Justin in his Dialogue. Ordinal reference to the psalms continues
      > to appear in the Christian tradition and eventually takes on hermeneutical
      > significance, perhaps most conspicuously throughout the *Expositio
      > Psalmorum
      > * of Cassiodorus. He also refers to a Christian number-symbology tradition
      > that preceded him when writes (at LXX Ps 26), "It remains for us to
      > believe
      > the statement of our forebears, that the powers of the psalms harmonize
      > with the numbers allotted and designated." So far the earliest
      > number-symbolism applied to the psalms I have found is that of St. Hilary
      > in his *Tractatus super psalmos* at LXX Ps 118.
      >
      > Ordinal designation of composition-sections appears in the earliest Greek
      > textual evidence we have, such as in Homeric manuscripts from the
      > later 3rd
      > century BCE. It may be that the Greek-(and then the Latin-)writing
      > Christian scribal practice I have described here grew out of the
      > Greco-Roman literary tradition. But why would it be applied only to the
      > psalms?
      >
      > Does anyone have thoughts about the background and rationale behind the
      > Christian scribal practice of numbering only the psalms (and not any other
      > Bible-chapters) in late Antiquity?
      >
      > Bill Yarchin
      > --
      > William Yarchin, Ph.D.
      > Dean's Endowed Professor of Biblical Studies
      > Azusa Pacific University
      > 626/969-3434 ext. 5683
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      >
    • Timothy Beach
      Being far from a scholar myself, and feeling privileged just to have the opportunity to listen in on your dialogues, I will opt for asking a question that may
      Message 2 of 10 , Jan 16, 2013
        Being far from a scholar myself, and feeling privileged just to have the
        opportunity to listen in on your dialogues, I will opt for asking a
        question that may (or may not) lead you discovering an answer to your
        question. Having heard that monasteries (where many Christian scribes
        lived) routinely chanted (and still chant) the whole of the Psalter in a
        week - it was and is a major part of the monastic offices (both east and
        west) - might the chapter/verse divisions been useful to them more than any
        others in ancient Christendom?

        Timothy Beach, M.Div.
        Taichung, Taiwan


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • James Miller
        ... Some questions for you, Bill. First, what is the evidence upon which your assertion that the chanting and singing of these same psalms in Jewish worship
        Message 3 of 10 , Jan 18, 2013
          On Fri, 18 Jan 2013, dr.beel wrote:

          > The liturgical-practice-explanation is persuasive only on the assumption that numbering the psalms is a practice that liturgical recitation and chanting of them makes necessary. But we know this isn't the case, because the chanting and singing of these same psalms in Jewish worship during antiquity doesn't seem to have required numbering them. If ancient Christians found it necessary to number the psalms in order to find their place in the liturgy, why didn't ancient Jews?
          > And: indeed the imperial codices like Sinaiticus include a 151st psalm, but with the superscription carefully pointing out that this psalm is "outside the numbering (arithmou)." Here again it is only in a Christian MS, not a Jewish one, that the psalter is even referred to in terms of numbering its chapters. For both communities the psalms were central to liturgical life, yet only one of them numbered the psalms. Does Christian liturgical use fully explain this phenomonenon?

          Some questions for you, Bill. First, what is the evidence upon which your
          assertion that "the chanting and singing of these same psalms in Jewish
          worship during antiquity doesn't seem to have required numbering them" is
          based? Can you point to some Jewish liturgical manuscript from the period
          that lacks numbering? Some ancient testimonial about how Jewish worship
          was conducted that rules out such? I am curious to know that first of all,
          since such a dearth of evidence about worship practices of the period
          seems to me to obtain.

          Furthermore, surely you are aware that the Hebrew Psalms readily divide,
          by internal indications, into 5 sections? The later chapter divisions
          coincide, in relevant areas, by the way, with those divisions. The
          diapsalma of the LXX Psalms--which sometimes correspond to a "selah" in
          the Hebrew text--could also be mentioned as other possible division
          points. Would you maintain that none of these larger-scale division
          schemes had any sort of liturgical significance? If so, on what basis?

          So, in answer to the question "If ancient Christians found it necessary to
          number the psalms in order to find their place in the liturgy, why didn't
          ancient Jews?" I would ask: how do we know they didn't just have a
          differing numbering system for Psalms? One that involved, at the least, 5
          sections?

          The more important question I have for you is whether you've ever
          considered carefully the Psalms complex in the fifth-century imperial
          codex A(lexandrinus)? If so, what do you make of the navigational
          materials, especially the Epistle to Marcellinus and the "Canon of Psalms"
          prefaced at the beginning? The clear purpose of both, it seems to me, is
          to direct the worshiper in finding the relevant portions for various
          devotional uses.

          Do you think those were composed contemporaneously? The Letter to
          Marcellinus seems to date to the 4th century, so at least that part of the
          complex certainly predates Codex A. Then again, another part of the
          complex, the Hypothesis, has been attributed to the 4th century churchman
          Eusebius. Moreover, Codex A's Psalm divisions, so far as I am aware, match
          the divisions found in Codices S and B, which both date to the 4th
          century. Why would we, then, not interpret those earlier Psalm books in
          light of the more expanded one found in Codex A, assuming that all were
          liturgical in character? And why not assume that similar navigational
          texts, though not included in those manuscripts, might have been known and
          used for these, too?

          Granted, this does not provide irrefutable proof that the referenced
          divisions and numbering were introduced for liturgical purposes. But it
          does give strong indication that, by the 4th century, the divisions served
          a liturgical or devotional function. And we have certainly not ruled out
          the possibility that the divisions were introduced for liturgical or
          devotional purposes--either the divisions seen in Christian manuscripts,
          or those inhering in the Hebrew text of the Psalms.

          I would be happy to learn more about this matter, so if you have further
          evidence to present, please do so. I do not maintain, by the way, that
          other factors could not help to explain the Christian numbering of Psalms.
          But I do think that dismissing the possibility of a liturgical or
          devotional role in the process is wrong. I cannot tell for certain if
          that's what you're trying to do.

          James
        • James Miller
          First an informational question: are you, Bill, the one who made the original inquiry? I ask because this is not clear owing to the differing e-mail address
          Message 4 of 10 , Jan 19, 2013
            First an informational question: are you, Bill, the one who made the
            original inquiry? I ask because this is not clear owing to the differing
            e-mail address used in the last couple of postings. It would be helpful to
            me to know whether I am communicating with the original question's poser,
            or with someone else who shares an interest.

            On Sat, 19 Jan 2013, dr.beel wrote:

            > I am trying to account for the ubiquitous ancient Christian practice of
            > referring to the psalms by number in contrast with the utter absence of
            > ordinal reference to the psalms among ancient Jews.

            Thank you for clarifying further the nature of your inquiry. I am
            beginning to understand better the specific character of your query, which
            is interesting. I hope Joel, who wrote his dissertation on number
            symbolism in patristic thought--I think with specific reference to
            Evagrius of Pontus--may have some input on this matter as well.

            I will also see if I can get Dr. Georgi Parpulov, who has done in-depth
            research on the Byzantine Psalters, involved in this discussion. He is not
            a list member, but I have conducted an e-mail correspondence with him in
            the past and so can contact him to solicit his input. This seems a matter
            which might interest him.

            I will respond to parts of your response in this note, and others likely
            in some future note.

            > I think you may be right in suggesting that the Christian practice
            > resulted from several cultural influences. We might consider the
            > well-established Greek scribal practice of numbering sections of
            > literary works. Christians from the educated classes of Greco-Roman
            > society were familiar with the lyric epic tradition commonly featuring
            > numbered sections; it may be that the psalms were viewed as the
            > Christian lyric counterpart, complete with the gnomic values such
            > literature offered, and so the psalms took on numbers like the numbered
            > sections of Homer and Menander.

            About all I can say here is that these are interesting observations. I
            have not researched the lyric epic tradition in any depth, having only
            touched on it very superficially in my dissertation (which dealt with the
            Biblical Odes tradition). Do you see any significance that may be peculiar
            to the Christian tradition in the number 150?

            > In any event, you asked some questions, James, and here are my replies
            > for your consideration. You asked, "Can you point to some Jewish
            > liturgical manuscript from the period that lacks numbering?" Yes. All of
            > them. No machzor or siddur MS that I know of numbers any biblical psalm
            > despite the fact that psalms and portions of psalms comprise a good deal
            > of the content found in them. The earliest Hebrew psalter MSS also lack
            > numbers for the psalms. The earliest rabbinic sources lack numbers for
            > the psalms. Psalm-numbering is absent from the Jewish commentary
            > tradition altogether until later midrashim, and makes its first
            > appearance within an actual psalms MS only in the 11th century. It is on
            > the basis of its utter absence from the body of evidence that I submit
            > that during Antiquity Jewish liturgical use of the psalms did not
            > include ordinal (numbered) reference to them.

            All the materials you reference are fairly late if I'm not mistaken, i.e.,
            they post-date the rise and flourishing of Christianity; correct? I know
            that the earliest rabbinic sources are thought to offer witness to much
            earlier practice and custom. But the era in which they were put to writing
            is probably no earlier than about 200 C.E., correct? I ask because, if
            that is the case, then it seems to me that, strictly speaking, we are
            discussing Jewish worship of the centuries C.E.; inferences can be made as
            to earlier worship practices, but they remain just that--inferences.

            Now, if we are speaking of Jewish worship from the era in which this
            material was reduced to writing, then must we not allow the possibility
            that these sources convey a tradition that is, to some degree, in reaction
            against Christian practice (and its possible use of numeration)? In other
            words, Judaism in this era is attempting to distinguish itself as starkly
            as is possible from the novel sect that claimed to arise from it.

            This is an argument from silence and does not go very far toward
            conclusively proving anything. And, not being in any sense expert in
            Jewish worship practices in any era, I may be making some fundamental
            conceptual errors. It may, nonetheless, be worth considering.

            > You asked, "what do you make of the navigational materials, especially
            > the Epistle to Marcellinus and the "Canon of Psalms" prefaced at the
            > beginning [of A]?" The Eusebian Psalms-canon simply lists the hypothesis
            > to each numbered psalm. I see nothing there particularly liturgical.
            > Your mention of the Epistle to Marcellinus actually demonstrates my
            > point: Athanasius constantly refers to psalms by their numbers, but in
            > no instance is the reference to anything liturgical; instead Athanasius
            > is recommending personal devotional application as therapy for the soul.

            I would disagree regarding the "Canon of Psalms" section and I believe you
            are mischaracterizing it. That section is, to my understanding, patently
            liturgical, or at least devotional. It enshrines a monastic worship
            practice--not clearly communal, which is why I say it may be
            devotional--such as that practiced by monks in 4th century lower Egypt
            (Robert Taft discusses this monastic practice in his "Liturgy of the
            Hours," though he does not associate it with the referenced section from
            Codex A: so far as I know I am the only one who has thus far made that
            association). Perhaps you are confusing the "Canons of Psalms" with the
            Hypothesis of Psalms, which is a separate part of the preface? I recently
            photographed the pseudo-facsimile of Codex A (Baber) and can upload a
            photo of the column in question for your inspection, if you'd like: I
            would be happy to be proved wrong if I have somehow misconstrued it.

            > might have been known and used for these, too?" If you are talking about
            > the psalms-division into five books, this is not peculiar to Christian
            > psalters; as you know, it is found also in Hebrew psalters yet with no
            > liturgical function attributed to it anywhere in the Jewish tradition.
            > What, then, makes it liturgical in the Christian Bible? If you are
            > talking about division into discrete psalms, obviously this is true also
            > of the Hebrew psalter, and again without any liturgical function
            > attached to it in any Jewish source from antiquity. Same question
            > applies: what makes the numbering of discrete psalms a liturgical
            > practice?

            A question (as much for me as for you): when we use the term "liturgical"
            in reference to Jewish worship, are we speaking of communal worship as
            opposed to individual prayer (for the latter of which we would, instead,
            use the referent "devotional")? I admit to some fundamental unclarity on
            my part in this discussion regarding these terms. The elephant in the room
            here with respect to Jewish worship is whether what is done in synagogues
            since about 70 C.E.--which I understand to be a barely adequate stand-in
            for what was formerly done in the Temple--really qualifies as liturgical.
            If that question be answered in the positive, then we approach comparing
            apples with apples with regard to the question of the presence or absence
            of Psalm numbering and its liturgical applicability in Christianity and
            Judaism. If answered in the negative, the comparison may well be
            wrong-headed.

            In summary, it seems you would maintain that Psalm numeration is of a
            non-liturgical origin, and that the already-existing numeration was later
            (by the 4th century, as I am maintaining) adapted into liturgical use,
            correct? You seem to allow that the numeration played a role in worship,
            but you are inclined to search elsewhere for its origin, yes?

            > I am grateful for this exchange over the question of individual
            > psalm-numbering. I hope to learn more from it.

            Ditto. I did some research recently in preparation for writing an
            introduction to a Psalter and reviewed a bit of historical development, so
            it's still a subject fairly fresh in my mind. Hopefully I can continue to
            contribute and learn as well.

            By the way, have you looked at the Psalms of Solomon to see whether they
            might shed any light on your numeration query? I can't point to anything
            specific regarding them apart from the fact that they can be viewed as
            perhaps transitional between Judaism and Christianity.

            James

            >
            >
            > --- In lxx@yahoogroups.com, James Miller wrote:
            >>
            >> On Fri, 18 Jan 2013, dr.beel wrote:
            >>
            >>> The liturgical-practice-explanation is persuasive only on the assumption that numbering the psalms is a practice that liturgical recitation and chanting of them makes necessary. But we know this isn't the case, because the chanting and singing of these same psalms in Jewish worship during antiquity doesn't seem to have required numbering them. If ancient Christians found it necessary to number the psalms in order to find their place in the liturgy, why didn't ancient Jews?
            >>> And: indeed the imperial codices like Sinaiticus include a 151st psalm, but with the superscription carefully pointing out that this psalm is "outside the numbering (arithmou)." Here again it is only in a Christian MS, not a Jewish one, that the psalter is even referred to in terms of numbering its chapters. For both communities the psalms were central to liturgical life, yet only one of them numbered the psalms. Does Christian liturgical use fully explain this phenomonenon?
            >>
            >> Some questions for you, Bill. First, what is the evidence upon which your
            >> assertion that "the chanting and singing of these same psalms in Jewish
            >> worship during antiquity doesn't seem to have required numbering them" is
            >> based? Can you point to some Jewish liturgical manuscript from the period
            >> that lacks numbering? Some ancient testimonial about how Jewish worship
            >> was conducted that rules out such? I am curious to know that first of all,
            >> since such a dearth of evidence about worship practices of the period
            >> seems to me to obtain.
            >>
            >> Furthermore, surely you are aware that the Hebrew Psalms readily divide,
            >> by internal indications, into 5 sections? The later chapter divisions
            >> coincide, in relevant areas, by the way, with those divisions. The
            >> diapsalma of the LXX Psalms--which sometimes correspond to a "selah" in
            >> the Hebrew text--could also be mentioned as other possible division
            >> points. Would you maintain that none of these larger-scale division
            >> schemes had any sort of liturgical significance? If so, on what basis?
            >>
            >> So, in answer to the question "If ancient Christians found it necessary to
            >> number the psalms in order to find their place in the liturgy, why didn't
            >> ancient Jews?" I would ask: how do we know they didn't just have a
            >> differing numbering system for Psalms? One that involved, at the least, 5
            >> sections?
            >>
            >> The more important question I have for you is whether you've ever
            >> considered carefully the Psalms complex in the fifth-century imperial
            >> codex A(lexandrinus)? If so, what do you make of the navigational
            >> materials, especially the Epistle to Marcellinus and the "Canon of Psalms"
            >> prefaced at the beginning? The clear purpose of both, it seems to me, is
            >> to direct the worshiper in finding the relevant portions for various
            >> devotional uses.
            >>
            >> Do you think those were composed contemporaneously? The Letter to
            >> Marcellinus seems to date to the 4th century, so at least that part of the
            >> complex certainly predates Codex A. Then again, another part of the
            >> complex, the Hypothesis, has been attributed to the 4th century churchman
            >> Eusebius. Moreover, Codex A's Psalm divisions, so far as I am aware, match
            >> the divisions found in Codices S and B, which both date to the 4th
            >> century. Why would we, then, not interpret those earlier Psalm books in
            >> light of the more expanded one found in Codex A, assuming that all were
            >> liturgical in character? And why not assume that similar navigational
            >> texts, though not included in those manuscripts, might have been known and
            >> used for these, too?
            >>
            >> Granted, this does not provide irrefutable proof that the referenced
            >> divisions and numbering were introduced for liturgical purposes. But it
            >> does give strong indication that, by the 4th century, the divisions served
            >> a liturgical or devotional function. And we have certainly not ruled out
            >> the possibility that the divisions were introduced for liturgical or
            >> devotional purposes--either the divisions seen in Christian manuscripts,
            >> or those inhering in the Hebrew text of the Psalms.
            >>
            >> I would be happy to learn more about this matter, so if you have further
            >> evidence to present, please do so. I do not maintain, by the way, that
            >> other factors could not help to explain the Christian numbering of Psalms.
            >> But I do think that dismissing the possibility of a liturgical or
            >> devotional role in the process is wrong. I cannot tell for certain if
            >> that's what you're trying to do.
            >>
            >> James
            >>
            >
            >
            >
          • Robert Kraft
            This is a great topic for further research (a dissertation, perhaps). And thanks to all who have contributed thus far. Here I add a few very quick
            Message 5 of 10 , Jan 19, 2013
              This is a great topic for further research (a dissertation, perhaps).
              And thanks to all who have contributed thus far. Here I add a few very
              quick observations:

              1. The Qumran evidence needs to be reexamined, with reference to the use
              of numbers regarding the Davidic corpus (he composed so many psalms,
              etc., in various connections), and the variant order of materials in
              some of the scrolls (apparently not in accord with the later 5
              book/scroll division?).

              2. Justin's several references include numberings from psalms that would
              be on different sections of the 5 book/scroll division (Psalms 49, 46,
              98, 44, 95, and 21); does this mean that there was a single very large
              Psalm scroll (or a specific Psalms codex) at his disposal?

              3. Justin's quotations and numbering are in discussion (real or not)
              with a Jewish audience, which may imply that they were also familiar
              with the numbering in Justin's mind. And why not? Most of what early
              Christians knew about Jewish Greek scriptures came from their Jewish
              parentage.

              4. It is possible that the specific numbers were added to Justin's
              original text by copyists to make the references more specific. This is
              not an infrequent phenomena in the transmission of such materials, and
              the textual base for Justin's Dialogue is exceptionally weak. Elsewhere,
              Justin most often refers simply to "David" as a prophet or hymnist --
              see the Apology, for example.

              5. Other second century Christian materials need to be explored for
              similar numbering -- a quick survey of Irenaeus Against Heresies shows
              only a couple of such specifics, in book 4, sections 3 (Ps 101) and 17
              (Ps 50 and its predecessor). But of course Irenaeus was not only
              transmitted in the original Greek (now largely lost) but was translated
              to the surviving Latin (and Armenian?).

              Lots more can be done with this fascinating probe into such literary
              habits and their transmission. My own take on it is that the "school"
              context needs to be explored more closely, as in Justin's discussions
              with Trypho's group. Clearly that (scholarly study, and polemics) is
              another major area beyond group "liturgy" or private uses in which Jews
              and their Christian offspring shared interest.

              Bob Kraft, Emeritus UPenn

              On 1/19/2013 1:49 PM, James Miller wrote:
              >
              > First an informational question: are you, Bill, the one who made the
              > original inquiry? I ask because this is not clear owing to the differing
              > e-mail address used in the last couple of postings. It would be
              > helpful to
              > me to know whether I am communicating with the original question's poser,
              > or with someone else who shares an interest.
              >
              > On Sat, 19 Jan 2013, dr.beel wrote:
              >
              > > I am trying to account for the ubiquitous ancient Christian practice of
              > > referring to the psalms by number in contrast with the utter absence of
              > > ordinal reference to the psalms among ancient Jews.
              >
              > Thank you for clarifying further the nature of your inquiry. I am
              > beginning to understand better the specific character of your query,
              > which
              > is interesting. I hope Joel, who wrote his dissertation on number
              > symbolism in patristic thought--I think with specific reference to
              > Evagrius of Pontus--may have some input on this matter as well.
              >
              > I will also see if I can get Dr. Georgi Parpulov, who has done in-depth
              > research on the Byzantine Psalters, involved in this discussion. He is
              > not
              > a list member, but I have conducted an e-mail correspondence with him in
              > the past and so can contact him to solicit his input. This seems a matter
              > which might interest him.
              >
              > I will respond to parts of your response in this note, and others likely
              > in some future note.
              >
              > > I think you may be right in suggesting that the Christian practice
              > > resulted from several cultural influences. We might consider the
              > > well-established Greek scribal practice of numbering sections of
              > > literary works. Christians from the educated classes of Greco-Roman
              > > society were familiar with the lyric epic tradition commonly featuring
              > > numbered sections; it may be that the psalms were viewed as the
              > > Christian lyric counterpart, complete with the gnomic values such
              > > literature offered, and so the psalms took on numbers like the numbered
              > > sections of Homer and Menander.
              >
              > About all I can say here is that these are interesting observations. I
              > have not researched the lyric epic tradition in any depth, having only
              > touched on it very superficially in my dissertation (which dealt with the
              > Biblical Odes tradition). Do you see any significance that may be
              > peculiar
              > to the Christian tradition in the number 150?
              >
              > > In any event, you asked some questions, James, and here are my replies
              > > for your consideration. You asked, "Can you point to some Jewish
              > > liturgical manuscript from the period that lacks numbering?" Yes.
              > All of
              > > them. No machzor or siddur MS that I know of numbers any biblical psalm
              > > despite the fact that psalms and portions of psalms comprise a good
              > deal
              > > of the content found in them. The earliest Hebrew psalter MSS also lack
              > > numbers for the psalms. The earliest rabbinic sources lack numbers for
              > > the psalms. Psalm-numbering is absent from the Jewish commentary
              > > tradition altogether until later midrashim, and makes its first
              > > appearance within an actual psalms MS only in the 11th century. It
              > is on
              > > the basis of its utter absence from the body of evidence that I submit
              > > that during Antiquity Jewish liturgical use of the psalms did not
              > > include ordinal (numbered) reference to them.
              >
              > All the materials you reference are fairly late if I'm not mistaken,
              > i.e.,
              > they post-date the rise and flourishing of Christianity; correct? I know
              > that the earliest rabbinic sources are thought to offer witness to much
              > earlier practice and custom. But the era in which they were put to
              > writing
              > is probably no earlier than about 200 C.E., correct? I ask because, if
              > that is the case, then it seems to me that, strictly speaking, we are
              > discussing Jewish worship of the centuries C.E.; inferences can be
              > made as
              > to earlier worship practices, but they remain just that--inferences.
              >
              > Now, if we are speaking of Jewish worship from the era in which this
              > material was reduced to writing, then must we not allow the possibility
              > that these sources convey a tradition that is, to some degree, in
              > reaction
              > against Christian practice (and its possible use of numeration)? In other
              > words, Judaism in this era is attempting to distinguish itself as starkly
              > as is possible from the novel sect that claimed to arise from it.
              >
              > This is an argument from silence and does not go very far toward
              > conclusively proving anything. And, not being in any sense expert in
              > Jewish worship practices in any era, I may be making some fundamental
              > conceptual errors. It may, nonetheless, be worth considering.
              >
              > > You asked, "what do you make of the navigational materials, especially
              > > the Epistle to Marcellinus and the "Canon of Psalms" prefaced at the
              > > beginning [of A]?" The Eusebian Psalms-canon simply lists the
              > hypothesis
              > > to each numbered psalm. I see nothing there particularly liturgical.
              > > Your mention of the Epistle to Marcellinus actually demonstrates my
              > > point: Athanasius constantly refers to psalms by their numbers, but in
              > > no instance is the reference to anything liturgical; instead Athanasius
              > > is recommending personal devotional application as therapy for the soul.
              >
              > I would disagree regarding the "Canon of Psalms" section and I believe
              > you
              > are mischaracterizing it. That section is, to my understanding, patently
              > liturgical, or at least devotional. It enshrines a monastic worship
              > practice--not clearly communal, which is why I say it may be
              > devotional--such as that practiced by monks in 4th century lower Egypt
              > (Robert Taft discusses this monastic practice in his "Liturgy of the
              > Hours," though he does not associate it with the referenced section from
              > Codex A: so far as I know I am the only one who has thus far made that
              > association). Perhaps you are confusing the "Canons of Psalms" with the
              > Hypothesis of Psalms, which is a separate part of the preface? I recently
              > photographed the pseudo-facsimile of Codex A (Baber) and can upload a
              > photo of the column in question for your inspection, if you'd like: I
              > would be happy to be proved wrong if I have somehow misconstrued it.
              >
              > > might have been known and used for these, too?" If you are talking
              > about
              > > the psalms-division into five books, this is not peculiar to Christian
              > > psalters; as you know, it is found also in Hebrew psalters yet with no
              > > liturgical function attributed to it anywhere in the Jewish tradition.
              > > What, then, makes it liturgical in the Christian Bible? If you are
              > > talking about division into discrete psalms, obviously this is true
              > also
              > > of the Hebrew psalter, and again without any liturgical function
              > > attached to it in any Jewish source from antiquity. Same question
              > > applies: what makes the numbering of discrete psalms a liturgical
              > > practice?
              >
              > A question (as much for me as for you): when we use the term "liturgical"
              > in reference to Jewish worship, are we speaking of communal worship as
              > opposed to individual prayer (for the latter of which we would, instead,
              > use the referent "devotional")? I admit to some fundamental unclarity on
              > my part in this discussion regarding these terms. The elephant in the
              > room
              > here with respect to Jewish worship is whether what is done in synagogues
              > since about 70 C.E.--which I understand to be a barely adequate stand-in
              > for what was formerly done in the Temple--really qualifies as liturgical.
              > If that question be answered in the positive, then we approach comparing
              > apples with apples with regard to the question of the presence or absence
              > of Psalm numbering and its liturgical applicability in Christianity and
              > Judaism. If answered in the negative, the comparison may well be
              > wrong-headed.
              >
              > In summary, it seems you would maintain that Psalm numeration is of a
              > non-liturgical origin, and that the already-existing numeration was later
              > (by the 4th century, as I am maintaining) adapted into liturgical use,
              > correct? You seem to allow that the numeration played a role in worship,
              > but you are inclined to search elsewhere for its origin, yes?
              >
              > > I am grateful for this exchange over the question of individual
              > > psalm-numbering. I hope to learn more from it.
              >
              > Ditto. I did some research recently in preparation for writing an
              > introduction to a Psalter and reviewed a bit of historical
              > development, so
              > it's still a subject fairly fresh in my mind. Hopefully I can continue to
              > contribute and learn as well.
              >
              > By the way, have you looked at the Psalms of Solomon to see whether they
              > might shed any light on your numeration query? I can't point to anything
              > specific regarding them apart from the fact that they can be viewed as
              > perhaps transitional between Judaism and Christianity.
              >
              > James
              >
              > >
              > >
              > > --- In lxx@yahoogroups.com <mailto:lxx%40yahoogroups.com>, James
              > Miller wrote:
              > >>
              > >> On Fri, 18 Jan 2013, dr.beel wrote:
              > >>
              > >>> The liturgical-practice-explanation is persuasive only on the
              > assumption that numbering the psalms is a practice that liturgical
              > recitation and chanting of them makes necessary. But we know this
              > isn't the case, because the chanting and singing of these same psalms
              > in Jewish worship during antiquity doesn't seem to have required
              > numbering them. If ancient Christians found it necessary to number the
              > psalms in order to find their place in the liturgy, why didn't ancient
              > Jews?
              > >>> And: indeed the imperial codices like Sinaiticus include a 151st
              > psalm, but with the superscription carefully pointing out that this
              > psalm is "outside the numbering (arithmou)." Here again it is only in
              > a Christian MS, not a Jewish one, that the psalter is even referred to
              > in terms of numbering its chapters. For both communities the psalms
              > were central to liturgical life, yet only one of them numbered the
              > psalms. Does Christian liturgical use fully explain this phenomonenon?
              > >>
              > >> Some questions for you, Bill. First, what is the evidence upon
              > which your
              > >> assertion that "the chanting and singing of these same psalms in Jewish
              > >> worship during antiquity doesn't seem to have required numbering
              > them" is
              > >> based? Can you point to some Jewish liturgical manuscript from the
              > period
              > >> that lacks numbering? Some ancient testimonial about how Jewish worship
              > >> was conducted that rules out such? I am curious to know that first
              > of all,
              > >> since such a dearth of evidence about worship practices of the period
              > >> seems to me to obtain.
              > >>
              > >> Furthermore, surely you are aware that the Hebrew Psalms readily
              > divide,
              > >> by internal indications, into 5 sections? The later chapter divisions
              > >> coincide, in relevant areas, by the way, with those divisions. The
              > >> diapsalma of the LXX Psalms--which sometimes correspond to a "selah" in
              > >> the Hebrew text--could also be mentioned as other possible division
              > >> points. Would you maintain that none of these larger-scale division
              > >> schemes had any sort of liturgical significance? If so, on what basis?
              > >>
              > >> So, in answer to the question "If ancient Christians found it
              > necessary to
              > >> number the psalms in order to find their place in the liturgy, why
              > didn't
              > >> ancient Jews?" I would ask: how do we know they didn't just have a
              > >> differing numbering system for Psalms? One that involved, at the
              > least, 5
              > >> sections?
              > >>
              > >> The more important question I have for you is whether you've ever
              > >> considered carefully the Psalms complex in the fifth-century imperial
              > >> codex A(lexandrinus)? If so, what do you make of the navigational
              > >> materials, especially the Epistle to Marcellinus and the "Canon of
              > Psalms"
              > >> prefaced at the beginning? The clear purpose of both, it seems to
              > me, is
              > >> to direct the worshiper in finding the relevant portions for various
              > >> devotional uses.
              > >>
              > >> Do you think those were composed contemporaneously? The Letter to
              > >> Marcellinus seems to date to the 4th century, so at least that part
              > of the
              > >> complex certainly predates Codex A. Then again, another part of the
              > >> complex, the Hypothesis, has been attributed to the 4th century
              > churchman
              > >> Eusebius. Moreover, Codex A's Psalm divisions, so far as I am
              > aware, match
              > >> the divisions found in Codices S and B, which both date to the 4th
              > >> century. Why would we, then, not interpret those earlier Psalm books in
              > >> light of the more expanded one found in Codex A, assuming that all were
              > >> liturgical in character? And why not assume that similar navigational
              > >> texts, though not included in those manuscripts, might have been
              > known and
              > >> used for these, too?
              > >>
              > >> Granted, this does not provide irrefutable proof that the referenced
              > >> divisions and numbering were introduced for liturgical purposes. But it
              > >> does give strong indication that, by the 4th century, the divisions
              > served
              > >> a liturgical or devotional function. And we have certainly not
              > ruled out
              > >> the possibility that the divisions were introduced for liturgical or
              > >> devotional purposes--either the divisions seen in Christian
              > manuscripts,
              > >> or those inhering in the Hebrew text of the Psalms.
              > >>
              > >> I would be happy to learn more about this matter, so if you have
              > further
              > >> evidence to present, please do so. I do not maintain, by the way, that
              > >> other factors could not help to explain the Christian numbering of
              > Psalms.
              > >> But I do think that dismissing the possibility of a liturgical or
              > >> devotional role in the process is wrong. I cannot tell for certain if
              > >> that's what you're trying to do.
              > >>
              > >> James
              > >>
              > >
              > >
              > >
              >
              >



              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • James Miller
              ... Thank you for the clarification. ... I have sent him an e-mail, but got a vacation reply. I hope he will take interest and contribute to this discussion. I
              Message 6 of 10 , Jan 19, 2013
                On Sat, 19 Jan 2013, dr.beel wrote:

                > "Are you, Bill, the one who made the original inquiry?" Yes. I apologize
                > for the confusion. I am very new to the LXX list serve, and still
                > learning how to post properly.

                Thank you for the clarification.

                > I am currently in email conversation with Joel Kalvesmaki. I would value
                > any input from Dr. Parpulov. Thanks for these suggestions.

                I have sent him an e-mail, but got a vacation reply. I hope he will take
                interest and contribute to this discussion. I believe his input would be
                of value to all interested in this topic.

                > the 150 number for the psalter. In the Jewish tradition there is minimal
                > attention to the 150 number, partially because the Hebrew Psalter
                > configures the psalms differently than a 150-psalm total, depending on
                > the MS in question.

                Where can we read about how these Hebrew Psalters are configured? I would
                like to know more about this.

                > "Perhaps you are confusing the "Canons of Psalms" with the Hypothesis of
                > Psalms, which is a separate part of the preface?" Yes, I have confused
                > the two. If you can provide an image of the A column containing the
                > Psalms-Canon I would be grateful. Thanks much.

                I will upload images to our group's site soon. You should get an e-mail
                notice (which goes out group-wide) about that. I am including a very
                poor-quality scan from the old photo-facsimile edition of the portion of
                interest from Codex A as well as the far more legible rendering from
                Baber's pseudo-facsimile.

                > On the Christian side, again Athanasius is instructive, since his letter
                > to Marcellinus presupposes the psalms as spiritually active for the
                > individual Christian on a personal basis. Yet Athanasius also speaks of
                > the music to which the psalms are set for singing?clearly a reflection
                > of their communal/liturgical function.

                Taken against the backdrop of other Athanasian writings, especially the
                Life of St. Anthony, it seems to me the Letter reflects to some extent
                Egyptian monastic prayer practice. The line between devotional and
                liturgical appears blurred in this setting, since sometimes the monks
                chanted alone in their cells, while sometimes they gathered to read them
                communally. It seems to me that, excluding the eucharistic service, the
                prayer-reading was essentially the same whether read privately or in the
                company of fellow monastics. In any case, this monastic worship clearly
                had its influence on corporate worship outside the monasteries. Taft's
                book on the hours (among other of his books and articles) sketches this
                out--though I am of the opinion, for whatever that's worth, that he draws
                too sharp a distinction between monastic and non-monastic (epitomized in
                the so-called cathedral rite) worship practices.

                > use, correct?" I am not yet sure. Christians seem to have been the first
                > to number the psalms, perhaps in in response to liturgical needs and
                > influenced by the sections-numbering precedent well attested in the
                > Greek literary tradition. That tradition might not have been an
                > influencing factor for the Jews in their liturgical life with the
                > psalms, and so Jews went with a first-line quotation practice rather
                > than a numbering system by which to identify any given psalm. In any
                > event, by the time of Hilary (who himself pointed out that it was not
                > the practice of the Jews to number the psalms) the psalm-numbers had
                > taken on symbolic significance.

                I hope you will keep us apprised of your research in this area. It's a
                topic that is certainly of great interest to me. Are the superscriptions
                themselves evidence of the first-line quotation practice?

                James

                > --- In lxx@yahoogroups.com, James Miller wrote:
                >>
                >> First an informational question: are you, Bill, the one who made the
                >> original inquiry? I ask because this is not clear owing to the differing
                >> e-mail address used in the last couple of postings. It would be helpful to
                >> me to know whether I am communicating with the original question's poser,
                >> or with someone else who shares an interest.
                >>
                >> On Sat, 19 Jan 2013, dr.beel wrote:
                >>
                >>> I am trying to account for the ubiquitous ancient Christian practice of
                >>> referring to the psalms by number in contrast with the utter absence of
                >>> ordinal reference to the psalms among ancient Jews.
                >>
                >> Thank you for clarifying further the nature of your inquiry. I am
                >> beginning to understand better the specific character of your query, which
                >> is interesting. I hope Joel, who wrote his dissertation on number
                >> symbolism in patristic thought--I think with specific reference to
                >> Evagrius of Pontus--may have some input on this matter as well.
                >>
                >> I will also see if I can get Dr. Georgi Parpulov, who has done in-depth
                >> research on the Byzantine Psalters, involved in this discussion. He is not
                >> a list member, but I have conducted an e-mail correspondence with him in
                >> the past and so can contact him to solicit his input. This seems a matter
                >> which might interest him.
                >>
                >> I will respond to parts of your response in this note, and others likely
                >> in some future note.
                >>
                >>> I think you may be right in suggesting that the Christian practice
                >>> resulted from several cultural influences. We might consider the
                >>> well-established Greek scribal practice of numbering sections of
                >>> literary works. Christians from the educated classes of Greco-Roman
                >>> society were familiar with the lyric epic tradition commonly featuring
                >>> numbered sections; it may be that the psalms were viewed as the
                >>> Christian lyric counterpart, complete with the gnomic values such
                >>> literature offered, and so the psalms took on numbers like the numbered
                >>> sections of Homer and Menander.
                >>
                >> About all I can say here is that these are interesting observations. I
                >> have not researched the lyric epic tradition in any depth, having only
                >> touched on it very superficially in my dissertation (which dealt with the
                >> Biblical Odes tradition). Do you see any significance that may be peculiar
                >> to the Christian tradition in the number 150?
                >>
                >>> In any event, you asked some questions, James, and here are my replies
                >>> for your consideration. You asked, "Can you point to some Jewish
                >>> liturgical manuscript from the period that lacks numbering?" Yes. All of
                >>> them. No machzor or siddur MS that I know of numbers any biblical psalm
                >>> despite the fact that psalms and portions of psalms comprise a good deal
                >>> of the content found in them. The earliest Hebrew psalter MSS also lack
                >>> numbers for the psalms. The earliest rabbinic sources lack numbers for
                >>> the psalms. Psalm-numbering is absent from the Jewish commentary
                >>> tradition altogether until later midrashim, and makes its first
                >>> appearance within an actual psalms MS only in the 11th century. It is on
                >>> the basis of its utter absence from the body of evidence that I submit
                >>> that during Antiquity Jewish liturgical use of the psalms did not
                >>> include ordinal (numbered) reference to them.
                >>
                >> All the materials you reference are fairly late if I'm not mistaken, i.e.,
                >> they post-date the rise and flourishing of Christianity; correct? I know
                >> that the earliest rabbinic sources are thought to offer witness to much
                >> earlier practice and custom. But the era in which they were put to writing
                >> is probably no earlier than about 200 C.E., correct? I ask because, if
                >> that is the case, then it seems to me that, strictly speaking, we are
                >> discussing Jewish worship of the centuries C.E.; inferences can be made as
                >> to earlier worship practices, but they remain just that--inferences.
                >>
                >> Now, if we are speaking of Jewish worship from the era in which this
                >> material was reduced to writing, then must we not allow the possibility
                >> that these sources convey a tradition that is, to some degree, in reaction
                >> against Christian practice (and its possible use of numeration)? In other
                >> words, Judaism in this era is attempting to distinguish itself as starkly
                >> as is possible from the novel sect that claimed to arise from it.
                >>
                >> This is an argument from silence and does not go very far toward
                >> conclusively proving anything. And, not being in any sense expert in
                >> Jewish worship practices in any era, I may be making some fundamental
                >> conceptual errors. It may, nonetheless, be worth considering.
                >>
                >>> You asked, "what do you make of the navigational materials, especially
                >>> the Epistle to Marcellinus and the "Canon of Psalms" prefaced at the
                >>> beginning [of A]?" The Eusebian Psalms-canon simply lists the hypothesis
                >>> to each numbered psalm. I see nothing there particularly liturgical.
                >>> Your mention of the Epistle to Marcellinus actually demonstrates my
                >>> point: Athanasius constantly refers to psalms by their numbers, but in
                >>> no instance is the reference to anything liturgical; instead Athanasius
                >>> is recommending personal devotional application as therapy for the soul.
                >>
                >> I would disagree regarding the "Canon of Psalms" section and I believe you
                >> are mischaracterizing it. That section is, to my understanding, patently
                >> liturgical, or at least devotional. It enshrines a monastic worship
                >> practice--not clearly communal, which is why I say it may be
                >> devotional--such as that practiced by monks in 4th century lower Egypt
                >> (Robert Taft discusses this monastic practice in his "Liturgy of the
                >> Hours," though he does not associate it with the referenced section from
                >> Codex A: so far as I know I am the only one who has thus far made that
                >> association). Perhaps you are confusing the "Canons of Psalms" with the
                >> Hypothesis of Psalms, which is a separate part of the preface? I recently
                >> photographed the pseudo-facsimile of Codex A (Baber) and can upload a
                >> photo of the column in question for your inspection, if you'd like: I
                >> would be happy to be proved wrong if I have somehow misconstrued it.
                >>
                >>> might have been known and used for these, too?" If you are talking about
                >>> the psalms-division into five books, this is not peculiar to Christian
                >>> psalters; as you know, it is found also in Hebrew psalters yet with no
                >>> liturgical function attributed to it anywhere in the Jewish tradition.
                >>> What, then, makes it liturgical in the Christian Bible? If you are
                >>> talking about division into discrete psalms, obviously this is true also
                >>> of the Hebrew psalter, and again without any liturgical function
                >>> attached to it in any Jewish source from antiquity. Same question
                >>> applies: what makes the numbering of discrete psalms a liturgical
                >>> practice?
                >>
                >> A question (as much for me as for you): when we use the term "liturgical"
                >> in reference to Jewish worship, are we speaking of communal worship as
                >> opposed to individual prayer (for the latter of which we would, instead,
                >> use the referent "devotional")? I admit to some fundamental unclarity on
                >> my part in this discussion regarding these terms. The elephant in the room
                >> here with respect to Jewish worship is whether what is done in synagogues
                >> since about 70 C.E.--which I understand to be a barely adequate stand-in
                >> for what was formerly done in the Temple--really qualifies as liturgical.
                >> If that question be answered in the positive, then we approach comparing
                >> apples with apples with regard to the question of the presence or absence
                >> of Psalm numbering and its liturgical applicability in Christianity and
                >> Judaism. If answered in the negative, the comparison may well be
                >> wrong-headed.
                >>
                >> In summary, it seems you would maintain that Psalm numeration is of a
                >> non-liturgical origin, and that the already-existing numeration was later
                >> (by the 4th century, as I am maintaining) adapted into liturgical use,
                >> correct? You seem to allow that the numeration played a role in worship,
                >> but you are inclined to search elsewhere for its origin, yes?
                >>
                >>> I am grateful for this exchange over the question of individual
                >>> psalm-numbering. I hope to learn more from it.
                >>
                >> Ditto. I did some research recently in preparation for writing an
                >> introduction to a Psalter and reviewed a bit of historical development, so
                >> it's still a subject fairly fresh in my mind. Hopefully I can continue to
                >> contribute and learn as well.
                >>
                >> By the way, have you looked at the Psalms of Solomon to see whether they
                >> might shed any light on your numeration query? I can't point to anything
                >> specific regarding them apart from the fact that they can be viewed as
                >> perhaps transitional between Judaism and Christianity.
                >>
                >> James
                >>
                >>>
                >>>
                >>> --- In lxx@yahoogroups.com, James Miller wrote:
                >>>>
                >>>> On Fri, 18 Jan 2013, dr.beel wrote:
                >>>>
                >>>>> The liturgical-practice-explanation is persuasive only on the assumption that numbering the psalms is a practice that liturgical recitation and chanting of them makes necessary. But we know this isn't the case, because the chanting and singing of these same psalms in Jewish worship during antiquity doesn't seem to have required numbering them. If ancient Christians found it necessary to number the psalms in order to find their place in the liturgy, why didn't ancient Jews?
                >>>>> And: indeed the imperial codices like Sinaiticus include a 151st psalm, but with the superscription carefully pointing out that this psalm is "outside the numbering (arithmou)." Here again it is only in a Christian MS, not a Jewish one, that the psalter is even referred to in terms of numbering its chapters. For both communities the psalms were central to liturgical life, yet only one of them numbered the psalms. Does Christian liturgical use fully explain this phenomonenon?
                >>>>
                >>>> Some questions for you, Bill. First, what is the evidence upon which your
                >>>> assertion that "the chanting and singing of these same psalms in Jewish
                >>>> worship during antiquity doesn't seem to have required numbering them" is
                >>>> based? Can you point to some Jewish liturgical manuscript from the period
                >>>> that lacks numbering? Some ancient testimonial about how Jewish worship
                >>>> was conducted that rules out such? I am curious to know that first of all,
                >>>> since such a dearth of evidence about worship practices of the period
                >>>> seems to me to obtain.
                >>>>
                >>>> Furthermore, surely you are aware that the Hebrew Psalms readily divide,
                >>>> by internal indications, into 5 sections? The later chapter divisions
                >>>> coincide, in relevant areas, by the way, with those divisions. The
                >>>> diapsalma of the LXX Psalms--which sometimes correspond to a "selah" in
                >>>> the Hebrew text--could also be mentioned as other possible division
                >>>> points. Would you maintain that none of these larger-scale division
                >>>> schemes had any sort of liturgical significance? If so, on what basis?
                >>>>
                >>>> So, in answer to the question "If ancient Christians found it necessary to
                >>>> number the psalms in order to find their place in the liturgy, why didn't
                >>>> ancient Jews?" I would ask: how do we know they didn't just have a
                >>>> differing numbering system for Psalms? One that involved, at the least, 5
                >>>> sections?
                >>>>
                >>>> The more important question I have for you is whether you've ever
                >>>> considered carefully the Psalms complex in the fifth-century imperial
                >>>> codex A(lexandrinus)? If so, what do you make of the navigational
                >>>> materials, especially the Epistle to Marcellinus and the "Canon of Psalms"
                >>>> prefaced at the beginning? The clear purpose of both, it seems to me, is
                >>>> to direct the worshiper in finding the relevant portions for various
                >>>> devotional uses.
                >>>>
                >>>> Do you think those were composed contemporaneously? The Letter to
                >>>> Marcellinus seems to date to the 4th century, so at least that part of the
                >>>> complex certainly predates Codex A. Then again, another part of the
                >>>> complex, the Hypothesis, has been attributed to the 4th century churchman
                >>>> Eusebius. Moreover, Codex A's Psalm divisions, so far as I am aware, match
                >>>> the divisions found in Codices S and B, which both date to the 4th
                >>>> century. Why would we, then, not interpret those earlier Psalm books in
                >>>> light of the more expanded one found in Codex A, assuming that all were
                >>>> liturgical in character? And why not assume that similar navigational
                >>>> texts, though not included in those manuscripts, might have been known and
                >>>> used for these, too?
                >>>>
                >>>> Granted, this does not provide irrefutable proof that the referenced
                >>>> divisions and numbering were introduced for liturgical purposes. But it
                >>>> does give strong indication that, by the 4th century, the divisions served
                >>>> a liturgical or devotional function. And we have certainly not ruled out
                >>>> the possibility that the divisions were introduced for liturgical or
                >>>> devotional purposes--either the divisions seen in Christian manuscripts,
                >>>> or those inhering in the Hebrew text of the Psalms.
                >>>>
                >>>> I would be happy to learn more about this matter, so if you have further
                >>>> evidence to present, please do so. I do not maintain, by the way, that
                >>>> other factors could not help to explain the Christian numbering of Psalms.
                >>>> But I do think that dismissing the possibility of a liturgical or
                >>>> devotional role in the process is wrong. I cannot tell for certain if
                >>>> that's what you're trying to do.
                >>>>
                >>>> James
                >>>>
                >>>
                >>>
                >>>
                >>
                >
                >
                >
              • Joel Kalvesmaki
                As James mentions below, I ve done some research on number symbolism. I ll register here some comments and questions, to supplement those from James and Bob.
                Message 7 of 10 , Jan 22, 2013
                  As James mentions below, I've done some research on number symbolism. I'll
                  register here some comments and questions, to supplement those from James
                  and Bob.

                  First of all, I'm really happy to see some interest in the general culture
                  of numeration. There has been quite a lot of work on the culture of
                  arithmetic, geometry, and the other mathemata, but not a lot of work has
                  gone into the culture of ancient numbering, which doesn't have the cachet
                  more complex disciplines garner.

                  What types of literary units were numbered throughout the ancient
                  Mediterranean? I can think of the numeration of books (say of Homer), but I
                  don't think I've yet run into pre-Christian numeration of literary units
                  smaller than books. OK, I take that back. There were ancient pre-Christian
                  lists that provided how many papyrus lines a work would take up. (Scribes
                  charged by the line.) This bit of evidence has been recently used in an
                  interesting point-counterpoint between Kennedy 2010 and Gregory 2012,
                  concerning whether Plato structured his dialogues numerically.[1] I side
                  with Gregory. But even if there is something to Kennedy's idea, he is
                  working with a numeration that reflects the medium, not the internal
                  literary organization. And that's a big difference from the Psalter
                  numeration we're discussing.

                  OK, this has just inspired another counterexample. We know that lines of
                  poems were numbered (see above; the practice is attested elsewhere). If the
                  Psalms were considered to be poetry, why weren't the lines also numbered?
                  Or were they? Has anyone here encountered ancient or medieval references to
                  line numbers in the Psalms?

                  I have one more counterexample--prognostic texts, where numbers were used
                  to locate answers to sets of thrown dice or lots. But let's set that aside
                  for now. The stuff is really tough to date, and a discussion of
                  purpose/function would take us too far afield. But it nevertheless reminds
                  us that we should address this question more broadly in the context of all
                  literature (prose, poetry; secular, religious; 2nd c. and before). If
                  there's a general absence of literary-unit numeration, one has to wonder
                  why. And if not, which texts? It would be important to see why some texts
                  get numbering and similar ones don't.

                  I've mentioned in personal correspondence with Dr. Yarchin my best
                  explanation for the data, which might be worth summarizing and extending
                  here. The sources mentioned by Kraft and Yarchin place Psalm numeration
                  squarely in the 2nd century. One asks, of course, why? A basis in number
                  symbolism is to be discounted. This phenomenon appears in the 4th century,
                  perhaps the 3rd (I await the edition of the newly discovered homilies on
                  the Psalms by Origen <http://www.themedievalacademyblog.org/?p=914>, to
                  find out if 4th c. exegetes were being inspired by O). My best guess is
                  that 2nd-c. numeration served to facilitate shared selective reading. The
                  best context to look for an explanation would be liturgical practice, where
                  one finds both selective reading and a shared need. (No doubt scholars of
                  the 1st c. would need to read and discover passages selectively, but there
                  was no need for this to be a shared activity. In marking up texts from
                  their library, a writer needed to merely to devise an arbitrary system of
                  discovery. We have parallels in the marginalia of medieval manuscripts and
                  archive documents.)

                  This being a discussion list, it seems appropriate to offer one more
                  speculative explanation. What if Psalm numeration developed in response to
                  the transfer from scroll to codex around the 1st c.? It seems that the
                  scroll format would lend itself well to preservation of individual verses
                  and couplets of the Psalms, because one need not stick to a specific line
                  width in composing a column. In fact, a scroll might visually preserve cues
                  that would facilitate quick discovery of individual Psalms in liturgical
                  use. But a codex, with pages of fixed width, seems to require either a book
                  with perfectly cut pages, the waste of space on the page (expensive), or,
                  to save money, the transformation of poetry to a prose form. We see
                  examples of the prose-formatted Psalms in PYale 1 (see Bob Kraft's
                  useful chronological
                  list of papyri <http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/rak/earlylxx/earlypaplist.html>).
                  Unfortunately, I don't see any examples of early scrolls (only codices)
                  with the Greek psalms, so I can't test this hypothesis. My codex
                  speculation doesn't replace my earlier liturgical explanation, but it
                  pushes that liturgical practice to a time before the move from scroll to
                  codex.

                  This is guesswork. I hope others corroborate these intuitions or show them
                  as utter balderdash.

                  Best wishes,

                  jk

                  [1] Kennedy, John Bernard Jnr., *Plato’s Forms, Pythagorean Mathematics,
                  and Stichometry<http://personalpages.manchester.ac.uk/staff/jay.kennedy/Kennedy_Apeiron_proofs.pdf>
                  *, APEIRON: a Journal for ancient Philosophy and Science (Online Journal),
                  2010. Responded to by Andrew Gregory, "Kennedy and Stichometry—Some
                  Methodological Considerations" Apeiron (2012): 157-79.



                  --
                  Joel Kalvesmaki
                  kalvesmaki.com


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